The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Multiverse of 2017

As we move toward the end of 2017, it's pretty hard to argue that in the United States, at least, the big story was the reaction to the presidency Donald Trump. Daniel Henninger provides an abstract of the man and his office:
... Needless to say, one presidency wasn’t going to be enough for Donald Trump. In true Trumpian style, the New York developer has produced two presidencies in one year.

The two Trump presidencies exist as parallel universes. One is inhabited by Trump of Twitter, a character out of Rabelais’s novel “The Very Horrific Life of Great Gargantua.” Much of the American population is appalled by Trump of Twitter, who lives in a dark and deeply personal pool of feuds and fulminations. His first-year approval rating floated below 40%, while voters in Virginia and Alabama rejected his candidates, and him.

Existing alongside is a universe of solid, tangible economic success. Reporting on the season’s strong holiday retail sales, this newspaper noted that consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, with unemployment at a 17-year low—a time-frame that turns the Obama presidency into a forgotten memory.
There's actually a multiverse that exists alongside the two Trump universes Henninger discusses. It consists of the mass hysteria exhibited by his many opponents in the four constituencies that oppose him. Let's consider the reaction of each of the four constituencies in turn.

The Democrats. The Democrats have created a fantasy belief system in which a duly-elected president of the United States is a monster of Hitlerian proportions—a white supremacist, a racist, a misogynist, a criminal, blah, blah, and blah. The fantasy claims of #Resistance all reside in the fever swamp of "impeachment"—an all-consuming goal that democrats believe will be achieved once they recapture the Congress in 2018. To achieve this dream, the Dems must prove either "Russian collusion" or "obstruction of Justice" or some other "crime"—a task made rather difficult because there is no evidence whatsoever that these things exist. Then again, fervid belief always trumps evidence in the the Democrat's through-the-looking-glass universe.

The Media. A recent study indicates that only 5 percent of main stream media stories have been positive regarding Donald Trump. This, of course, should come as no surprise when you consider the fact that the media are the Democrat's trained hamsters. But it's more than that. The media has chosen not to report this administration's many accomplishments for fear of boosting a president they hate. There has been a virtual blackout on the a booming economy, on very low unemployment, on a level of consumer confidence that has not been seen in two decades, on the many, many benefits for the middle class of the tax reform package (the first in 30 years), on a race toward energy independence that just might change the global landscape for the better, on the destruction of ISIS in the Levant. In the fake news universe of the main stream media, some things are better omitted,* particularly if they reflect well on a president they despise.

The Deep State. Donald Trump has quite appropriately characterized the denizens of the federal bureaucracy, along with the lobbyists who shape legislation to their clients' needs, and the thousands of federal contractors who suck off the teat of taxpayers as "the deep state." When this president suggests that it's time to "drain the swamp," he might be idealistic, but he is not wrong. But that threat has mobilized the deep state against him. Leaks, passive-aggressive behavior, bureaucratic blocking, and lawfare are only of few of the weapons wielded by the denizens of the deep state. In their universe, Trump must be destroyed because he is a threat, however small, to Big Intrusive Government.

The GOP Elites. Some in the GOP #Nevertrump movement have backed off as Trump's many legitimate accomplishments have piled up, but their contempt for a brash outsider remains.

Wikipedia defines the multiverse as: "... a hypothetical set of various possible universes including the universe which we live in."

Considering that, the really big story for 2017 isn't Donald Trump but the varied reaction to Donald Trump. In the United States in 2017, different groups are perfectly willing to live in different universes. To use a Star Wars metaphor, there has been "a disturbance in the force" and as a consequence, there is no longer a coherent world view or a cohesive national politics.

As a consequence, each of the four constituencies lives in their own hate-Trump universe, allowing that hatred to warp their thinking and dominate their actions. Yet somehow, remarkably, all of that negative energy hasn't stopped a coarse, "unpresidential" president from actually achieving a relatively long list of meaningful accomplishments on both the domestic and foreign policy areas. At the end of the year, that may be the truly big story of 2017.


* In what can only be characterized as an laughable indication of Trump Derangement Syndrome exhibited in the media, CNN has been conducting a full-on investigation of a white truck that was parked in a way that blocked their intrepid photographers from photographing Donald Trump on his golf course. OMG! A "scandal" of epic proportions!! In the meantime, more information about the Obama-Hezballah scandal slowly leaks out, but not at CNN.

Some numbers:

23. The number of times yesterday that CNN talked about the white truck and the golf course.

0. The number of times yesterday that CNN talked about the Obama-Hezballah scandal.

After all, the president's golf swing is definitely, positively, unquestionably national news, particularly when it can be spun into a negative. Whereas a past president allowing narcoterrorists to operate with impunity in our hemisphere isn't worthy of even a single mention. CNN --> Fake News all the way down. As one wag at Instapundit put it: the only way to stop CNN from covering the mystery of the white truck is to place a couple of Hezballah narco-terrorists behind it.


Conservative firebrand Kurt Schlichter provides us with his usual pull-no-punches take of this past year:
... President Donald Trump finished the year by signing a tax reform bill that punished conservatives’ enemies and rewarded their friends. The Democrats get to go tell their base of blue state coastal swells, “Uh, sorry about losing those state tax deductions cuz we were too busy resisting to actually negotiate and thereby get a seat at the table.” Cue the Sad Trombone. Trump plays for keeps, unlike the squish-cons who play for media hugs and invitations to the kool kidz’ parties.

He was supposed to lose the primary, but he didn’t. He was supposed to lose the general, but he didn’t. He was supposed to fall victim to the covert schemes of leftist bureaucrats and the overt obstruction of The Resistance, but he didn’t. Instead, Donald Trump has prospered as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. And it’s breaking the souls of his enemies. Deliciously.

The elite keeps losing to the guy they tell us is dumb. The elite keeps losing to the guy they tell us is a clown. The elite keeps losing to the guy who doesn’t meet their bottom line standard to be worthy of governing – being one of the elite. So, what’s that make the elite?

He just refuses to lose. He just refuses to submit. He just refuses to give a damn about what they say or what they think. And that infuriates them. He won’t take a knee, but he will offer them a finger ...

And Trump rolls on, not seeking their [the elites'] approval, not conforming to their demands, ignoring them when he isn’t mocking them on Twitter. He refuses to acknowledge their superiority, their right to rule over us Normals. Because while Trump makes a wonderful avatar, he is really only that – a symbol, a representation of something more terrifying to the elite than any one man. Trump represents Normal Americans, the ones the elite on both the right and the left look down upon with contempt and fear. They don’t really hate Donald Trump. They hate who he represents. They hate us. And they hate that they can’t do a damn thing about it.
And all of that (and more) is why we live in a multiverse.

Friday, December 29, 2017


During the Obama era, his administration decided to quash a DEA program to interdict and eliminate narcoterrorism by Iranian client, Hezballah, in the Americas—all of this because they needed to salvage the "Iran deal" in a pathetic attempt to bolster Obama's atrocious foreign policy legacy.

Rather than investigating this scandalous behavior after the story broke, the trained hamsters in the mainstream media have decided there no there, there. Yet another major Obama scandal, like many others, has been ignored. After all, there's no room for an actual scandal when the evidence-free Russian "collusion" fantasy has become the hamster's 24-hour-a-day obsession. An actual scandal involving hard evidence, real testimony, a Islamic terror group, the socialist leaders of Venezuela, and drug smuggling just isn't news worthy, is it?

So ... if, as Obama's spokespeople said at the time, Hezballah is just a moderate Islamic organization, it should come as no surprise that an apologist for yet another Islamic terror group, Hamas, should become the media's most recent darling.

Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, has been trotted out in recent weeks following Donald Trump's announcement that the U.S. would, at long last build an embassy in Israel's capital of Jerusalem. Sarsour uses tired leftist memes to tell us that the Palestinans are "oppressed" and that their fantasy country has been "occupied" by the Israelis. I have commented on the idiocy of these claims in a recent blog post entitled "Days of Rage."

Recently, Sarsour used her Facebook account to justify Palestinian terrorism. She wrote:
In context of what’s happening in Palestine in response to the announcement about Jerusalem and in general living under the longest and most brutal military occupation – we have to get a few things straight.

Nobody gets to tell an occupied people how to respond to their own oppression and the continued stripping of their humanity, agency and land whether they are Palestinians or not. Nobody. Oppressed people determine how, when and where to resist. They set the parameters. You don’t have to agree. Unless you have lived in their condition under the boot of a racist, supremacist, violent regime that sees them as less than human – you have no say in this conversation…
Okay, then. Looks like the conversation is settled. Uhhh, no.

Daniel Greenfield comments:
Good to know that the laws of warfare don't apply to "oppressed peoples under the boot of a racist, supremacist, violent regime."

Considering that the indigenous Jewish population of Israel freed itself from the rule of the Islamic colonial racist and supremacist regime, no one has the right to tell the IDF how to defend against the "Palestinian" settlers who are the proxy armies of the Islamic Supremacist occupation.

Islamic terrorists would like immunity from any accountability. They want to smash in the skulls of little girls, fire rockets at schools from kindergartens and then accuse Israel of violating human rights. But standards work both ways, despite Sarsour's "punching up terrorism" nonsense. If you opt out of the laws of war, so do your enemies. Everyone is oppressed in their own minds anyway.

But the Democrats continue to stand by Linda Sarsour, despite a blatant defense of anti-Semitic Islamic terrorism and accusations of complicity in sexual harassment against a fellow Muslim woman.

Because there's nothing the left won't excuse from Islamic Supremacists.
It is exactly this "immunity from any accountability" that all self-professed "victims" demand. Human rights violations? Terrorism? An Anti-gay, anti-Semitic, misogynistic culture? Widespread corruption? A Totalitarian leadership? None of it matters, because—"victimization and oppression."

It's garbage, and every thinking person knows it. Maybe the reason Linda Sarsour and her leftist fans don't know it is because ... well, you draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Drowning men grasp at straws. In what has become a comical meme, the Democrats grasp at polls when they discuss the tax reform measure that was signed into law the day before Christmas. They tell is that 41.6524 percent of the public are "against the tax reform measure" and that there will be a "day of reckoning" in November, 2018.

Yeah, I'm sure that middle class workers who will now keep a bit more of their own money and see more take-home pay in February will rise up and riot in the streets. After all, what's more important, more money in your pocket or the supposedly every-increasing needs of Big Intrusive Government?

Do Dems actually believe that the 143 million people who will receive a tax cut will march in the streets because a high earner who pays say $100,000 in taxes will get a larger absolute dollar tax reduction than a Middle income earner who pays, say, 6,000 in taxes?

Do progressives really believe that workers at 14 major companies that allocated a fraction of their corporate tax savings to bonuses* for all employees will "occupy" corporate headquarters in protest?

Do Chuck and Nancy actually think that a growing economy and low unemployment will somehow give them a insurmountable advantage?

I guess the bottom line is this: If the tax bill is really as bad as hysterical members of #Resistance tell us it is; if it's really a dagger in the heart of the Middle Class; if it really will destroy the country, why the enormous effort to defeat it? Just wait until November and reap the benefits of its awfulness in a massive wave election that will put Democrats back in power to stay.

Deep down, I suspect, the Dems are worried that tax reform might not be quite as awful as they claim it is; that people might like keeping more of their own hard-earned money, and that their fevered dreams of election wins followed by #Impeachment will be dashed.


*The editors of the New York Post comment:
Following President Trump’s signing of the act, which lowers the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, leading companies began — in his words — “showering their workers with bonuses.”

AT&T announced $1,000 bonuses for its 200,000 workers. So did Sinclair, the nation’s largest TV broadcaster, for 9,000 employees, and Comcast, MSNBC’s parent company.

Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bankcorp are boosting their minimum wage to $15 an hour — a major goal for Democrats these days — and many of the same companies also announced new business and philanthropic investments of up to $1 billion.

So what was the Democrats’ reaction when corporations began passing on their anticipated added profits to workers?

Democratic (and former Hillary Clinton) strategist Jesse Ferguson called it an attempt to “curry favor” by “playing to the ego of the president.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed the AT&T bonus had already been negotiated as part of a new union contract and was an attempt to “pin a rose on this tax bill” — only to learn that it was an extra $1,000 bonus on top of the earlier one.

Many other Dems and their media supporters labeled it a p.r. stunt. MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who’ll soon pocket an extra $1,000, called it “corporate America trying to convince you that their naked greed is charity.”
And the progressive psychodrama continues.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nothing at All

Last week the United Nations General assembly conducted an utterly meaningless vote that was given far more media attention than it deserved. Member nations condemned the United States for the temerity of noting that: (1) Jerusalem IS Israel's capitol, and (2) our embassy will be moved there. The hard left New York Times observed the vote, and with typical arrogance told us that the UN vote was actually a condemnation of their arch enemy, the current duly elected President of the United States. Nah, actually the vote was typical anti-American sentiment at the U.N., applauded by the increasingly anti-Israel Left. The current vote is but one of dozens that demonized and condemned Israel for "occupying" the fantasy country* that the palestinians insist actually existed before modern-day Israel was formed. This outright lie has become conventional wisdom among denizens of the left and a majority of UN member states.

The U.N. General Assembly is at least honest in its prevailing anti-US sentiment—an ironic position given that the United States contributes about 22 percent of the U.N budget—3.3 billion each year. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley noted that the current vote might precipitate a re-evaluation of those massive taxpayer donations to an unabashedly anti-U.S. organization. I can only hope that the Trump administration follow-up in 2018 and does exactly that.

In fact, it looks like tiny steps have already been taken. Andrew Keshner reports:
The Trump administration has worked out some “historic” belt-tightening at the United Nations, officials announced Sunday.

The UN’s budget has been slashed by more than $285 million, according to Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said the cost cuts gutted the organization’s “bloated management.”

On Sunday, Haley said the trimmed-down budget would mean increased discipline and accountability throughout the international organization.

She said the UN’s “inefficiency and overspending” were “well-known.”

Haley said she was pleased with how the new budget was shaking out.

“You can be sure we’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests,” she added.
$285 million in budget reductions is a very small start, but at least it is a start.

After all, since members of the U.N General Assembly want to flex their muscle with anti-Israel and anti-American votes and express their solidarity with the fantasy claims made by the palestinians, the least they can do is increase their collective contributions to pay for it.

A few years ago, on the 70th anniversary of the UN I wrote:
... There is a need for some of the functions that the UN provides, but these functions can be provided without the concomitant corruption, wasteful bureaucracy, and brazen anti-American sentiment from an organization to which we contribute over $1 billion a year.

It's time for a UN makeover. The organization should move out of the United States to a location better suited to its anti-Western membership. The United States should reduce it's support to the average yearly contribution of the top ten contributing nations. If that leads to budgetary problems for the UN, the organization should reduce the size of its massive, unnecessary bureaucracy. It should eliminate the various "commissions" that do little to improve the plight of the oppressed and everything to harass and denigrate targeted countries.

The UN is an anachronism that provides the appearance of an effective world body. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. It might be possible to restructure the UN into a smaller, more effective organization, but that's highly unlikely. In its present form, it does relatively little that could be not be accomplished more effectively with smaller targeted organizations.
The current U.N vote did nothing to change my mind. Nothing at all.


John Bolton makes a few concrete suggestions on how the USA can reduce its commitment to the UN:
Despite decades of U.N. “reform” efforts, little or nothing in its culture or effectiveness has changed. Instead, despite providing the body with a disproportionate share of its funding, the U.S. is subjected to autos-da-fé on a regular basis. The only consolation, at least to date, is that this global virtue-signaling has not yet included burning the U.S. ambassador at the stake.

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%

Start with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Though notorious for its anti-Israel bias, the organization has never hesitated to abuse America. How many know that earlier this year the U.N. dispatched a special rapporteur to investigate poverty in the U.S.? American taxpayers effectively paid a progressive professor to lecture them about how evil their country is.

The U.N.’s five regional economic and social councils, which have no concrete accomplishments, don’t deserve American funding either. If nations believe these regional organizations are worthwhile—a distinctly dubious proposition—they are entirely free to fund them. Why America is assessed to support them is incomprehensible.

Next come vast swaths of U.N. bureaucracy. Most of these budgets could be slashed with little or no real-world impact. Start with the Office for Disarmament Affairs. The U.N. Development Program is another example. Significant savings could be realized by reducing other U.N. offices that are little more than self-licking ice cream cones, including many dealing with “Palestinian” questions. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees could be consolidated into the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many U.N. specialized and technical agencies do important work, adhere to their mandates and abjure international politics. A few examples: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. They shouldn’t be shuttered, but they also deserve closer scrutiny.

Some will argue incorrectly that unilaterally moving to voluntary contributions violates the U.N. Charter. In construing treaties, like contracts, parties are absolved from performance when others violate their commitments. Defenders of the assessed-contribution model would doubtless not enjoy estimating how often the charter has been violated since 1945.
It's time. At the end of the day, tough love might be the only thing that could cause the UN to reform. Let's do this!


*I often refer to the "fantasy country" that underlies the unfounded claims of occupation by the palestinians (note that I purposely use the lower case construction because there is no actual palestinian people, only a collection of Arabs who have decided to call themselves "palestinians." David Solway provides an excellent discussion:
The vast majority of Palestinians hail from Egypt and South Syria, as 19th century census records and a plethora of authoritative studies, such as Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial, indicate beyond the shadow of a doubt. The PLO is a modern invention dating from the Rabat Summit of 1974. As has been pointed out more than once, if Palestine ever existed, where were the original borders? What was the currency? Where is the original flag? Where are its documented kings and rulers? Where are the historical artifacts and architectural remnants? And where are the founding texts and scriptures? The current fracas over the status of Jerusalem, the eastern section of which has been designated by the PA and the EU as the future capital of Palestine, is utter hooey. (Interestingly, India, China and Russia appear to have reversed their insistence on the East Jerusalem gambit, having “notably refrained from recognizing ‘East Jerusalem’ as the capital of Palestine at their annual meeting in New Delhi.” An invented nation can have only an invented capital. Neither enjoy legitimate existence. Palestine is the poster child for the anti-Zionist left -- that is the pivotal reason for its apparition -- but it is a nothing shawarma. [a play on "nothing burger"]

Saturday, December 23, 2017


As Democrats struggle to find something—anything—that implicates Donald Trump in their fantasy of Russian collusion, their spokespeople now tell us that "sources" (ah ... that would be the same fake news "sources" that have been proven wrong repeatedly over he past year) tell them that the president is on the verge of firing special counsel, Robert Mueller.* You can almost feel the glee underlying these predictions. After all, if Trump were to fire Mueller, he would undeniably, irredeemably, unquestionably be guilty of ... well, of something. After all, if they can't get Trump on fantasy "collusion," they're perfectly willing to get him on make-believe "obstruction of justice."

No matter that Mueller has been at his investigation for months and months and has come up with just about zero to implicate Trump in collusion. No matter that Mueller's team is seeded with Democrat partisans. No matter that almost every week we learn of anti-Trump bias among top investigators for the FBI. Trump, if he's smart, won't fire Mueller.

Kurt Schlichter pulls no punches (does he ever?) when he writes:
Let’s see, Mueller got Paul Manafort for stuff he did back when the idea of President Trump was still a far-out Simpson’s gag. He got General Flynn for doing what Trump fired him for. He got some nobody named George Platypus or something for lying about something that means nothing. But did he get anybody for collusion? Anybody? Did his unbiased, Trump-hating, committed Democrat minions ever even leak any evidence of it, since they’ve leaked everything else? Hey look, tumbleweeds!

This pseudo-scandal is a joke, a scam, a desperate attempt by the establishment to try to claw back the power We The People relieved them of when we dissed their dominatrix Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit. And they are showing the same level of skill, savvy, and raw competence that led us to give them their walking papers.

It’s a toss-up as to whether Mueller is too dumb or too arrogant to bother hiding his team’s indisputable conflicts of interest and manifestations of improper intent that should shock the conscience of any American with a shred of decency – a category that excludes the vast majority of the mainstream media, liberals, and the cheesy Never Trump weasels of Conservative, Inc., who yearn for a return to the days of olde when people paid attention to them and booked passage on their sad sailing adventures.

Mueller is a bad joke who doesn’t seem to be in on it. He’s bumbling forward, apparently ignorant of just how horrible it looks – how horrible it is – to have hired no one but committed Hillary donors for his team. Actually, it’s much, much worse than that – he’s actually hired lawyers who represented some of the unindicted criminals associated with the Clinton mosaic of corruption. Perhaps in the world Mueller inhabits with tools like Jim Comey, another buffoon who loves to preen in the glow of a once-spotless reputation that he chose to Schiff all over, this plays. But in the real world, in our world, it’s a sham, and not a very good one at that.

So, Mr. President, please don’t fire this guy. Let him stagger on for a while longer, destroying the façade of credibility our establishment betters thought they had constructed and that forms the basis of their shabby identities. He’s got nothing, and he will always have nothing, because the idiotic salve for the suckers that was Hillary’s excuse for losing to you – THE RUSSIANS DID IT! YEAH, UH, THE RUSSIANS! – was always a fraud, a way for that drunken aspiring tyrant and her coterie of slobbering courtiers to explain away their humiliating failure to beat you.
At its core, it's not about the Democrat's grave concern about justice, or their worry about Russian meddling in our elections, or about nefarious actors who represent a "threat to democracy." Nah, it's about loosing and how one party has spent a solid year creating their own warped psychodrama—the one where Trump is a monster who threatens our very way of life and is working with Vlad Putin to destroy our democracy.

After all, the only thing that matters is: #Resistance or #NeverTrump.

Great strategy. We'll see see how it all works out.


* Trump and other White House spokespeople have repeatedly denied the president intends to do any such thing, but in the Dems through-the-looking-glass world, that's solid confirmation that Meuller's tenure is in jeopardy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Venezuela Revisited ... Again

It's always worthwhile to revisit Venezuela, South America's touted experiment in a socialist utopia. Hundreds of thousand have fled the once oil-rich country. Food and medicine shortages abound, the economy has crumbled, and the socialist leaders use ever more draconian measures to stifle unrest so that they can maintain their desperate grasp on power. I can still remember when Hollywood glitterati, leftwing media sources, and many Democrats had a quiet love affair the Hugo Chavez, the father of this debacle. Oh well, never mind.

Jonah Goldberg comments:
For the last decade, the New York Times has covered the socialism of both Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro with the same sophisticated nuance it long applied to Cuba. Over the weekend, it ran a heart-wrenching story on how Venezuela’s poor children are dying from starvation. But the culpability of Chavism, Venezuela’s brand of socialism, is something the reader has to bring to the page. Such passive detachment between cause (in this case socialist policies) and effect (mass misery and starvation) is rarely found when the Times reports on, say, Republican economic policy.

The disconnect between socialism’s record and its invincible appeal also stems from leftists’ denial of what it really entails. Thus Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, dragged the Labor Party away from its official socialist dogma about the need for the “common ownership of the means of production.”

“Socialism for me,” he said, “was never about nationalization or the power of the state, not just about economics or even politics. It is a moral purpose to life, a set of values, a belief in society, in cooperation, in achieving together what we cannot achieve alone.” That’s why he rejected socialism in favor of what he called “social-ism.”

Similarly, Bernie bros focus on social solidarity rather than political economy.

But even this watered down spirit of “we’re all in it together” — whether you call it socialism or nationalism — can do enormous damage. It is very hard to reconcile with democracy and the rule of law, unless there’s a dire national crisis, and even then it may cause grave damage.

I don’t want America to be Denmark. But at least Denmark recognizes that social democracy requires democracy, free speech and the rule of law to keep it from turning into Venezuela on the Baltic. I wouldn’t be so concerned about the rising support for socialism among young people in the United States, save for the fact it’s been accompanied by a modest decline in support for democracy, too.
Socialism follows the inch-and-mile rule. Given an inch (e.g., modest healthcare programs designed to help the most vulnerable among us), socialists want a mile (e.g., universal government-run health care that will control nearly every aspect of our health).

And therein lies the problem. In the United States, it's no wonder that the Left has become hysterical over the recent tax reform package. It threatens any long term strategy they has to move from inches to miles. Why? Because citizens keep more of their own money rather than giving it to the likes of Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren to spend.

But back to Venezuela. As if economic catastrophe isn't enough, Venezuela, like many other socialist states (Cuba comes to mind) has careened toward a police state where totalitarianism become the brutal reality. Today, The Wall Street Journal presents an investigative report entitled: "Venezuela’s Brutal Crime Crackdown: Executions, Machetes and 8,292 Dead: Beleaguered regime kills guilty and innocent alike in poor barrios, often with shots to the heart." So during their last mile, the Leftist leaders in Venezuela, have decided that indiscriminate murder is a viable approach in their desperate attempt maintain power as the country they destroyed implodes.

To paraphrase Goldberg, I don't want America to become Venezuela, and if socialists have half a brain, I suspect that they wouldn't want that either.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tax Reform Gets Done

Tax reform has passed. It's a very good thing and a major win for this administration, for American taxpayers, and for businesses of all sizes. It was long past due.

But let's cut to the chase. If you were to believe the hysteria* coming from most Democrats and progressives, the idea of allowing American taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money is a bad thing. But why exactly?

Is it because our government knows how to spend our money wisely? After all, there's no waste, no abuse, no redundancy, is there? There are no unnecessary big government programs, no bloated entitlements, no unnecessary growth in an ineffective and inefficient bureaucracy. There's no way that allowing a business to keep more of its earnings just might lead to its managers deciding to use that money to grow the company. And there's no way that growing the company might lead to more and better jobs, the acquisition of more and better equipment (more jobs at the supplier), the building of more and better physical plants (more construction jobs). Is there? Nah. Not a chance. Never!

And if the economy grows, there will be less dependency on Big Intrusive Government (BIG). Oops ... maybe that's why the champions of BIG just might be so hysterical. After all, dependency is what they're all about.

The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media can't win the tax reform argument on its merits so they fall back on the polls—you know, the ones that suggest that Americans are against keeping more of their own money. Funny, that's not what I hear from middle class workers who are looking forward to a reduction in withholding (in February) and a significant bump in the standard deduction. But what do they know? Somehow the polls missed them, just like the polls missed the fact the Hillary would lose and the guy who promised tax reform and delivered it would win. Heh.


* For example, consider this op-ed headline in the solid blue Philadelphia Inquirer: "How the GOP produced the worst bill since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850" I'm laughing as I write this ... the Fugitive Slave Act? Really?? Cutting taxes is akin to ... slavery??? OMG ... hysteria reigns.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Project Cassandra

In the main, Politico was a strong supporter of Barack Obama and his initiatives, defending the Obama administration throughout its tenure. As Obama's infamous "Iran Deal" unfolded, Politico's editorial position was generally positive about the "deal." Those of us who opposed the Iran Deal did so because: (1) it provided significant monetary benefits to the Mullahs of Iran and got virtually nothing but empty promises in return; (2) it was unverifiable; (3) it delayed (maybe) Iran's development of nuclear weapons but did not in any way permanently eliminate it; (4) it did not retard Iran's development of ICBMs, (5) it destabilized the Middle East and set the stage for proliferation of WMDs and regional war over the next decade.

Over the two years since the deal was signed, Iran has not softened its stance toward the West, has continued and even increased its hegemony in the Middle East, continues to advocate the destruction of Israel, threatened many of our other Middle Eastern allies, continues to be a global sponsor of terror, and is otherwise a bad, bad actor in the region. So much for Obama's promise that all of this would lead to a more moderate Iran.

Obama and his foreign policy Team of 2s wanted the 'deal" so badly that they were obvious in their appeasement of the Mullahs. Now we learn that the appeasement went so far that it undermined a secret and long-term effort by the DEA to stop the Iranian backed terror group, Hezballah, from broadening its ongoing program of narcoterrorism. The same Politico that supported Obama then, reports now:
In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
In an extremely detailed and well-researched report (read the whole thing), Josh Meyer of Politico described how the Obama administration undermined and eventually killed the DEA program because they feared that it would cause the Mullahs to walk away from the "deal" Obama so desperately wanted.

To help justify their actions, members of Obama's Team of 2s tried to soften the danger posed by Hezballah. Meyer reports:
The man who would become Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, John Brennan went further. He recommended in a policy paper that “the next president has the opportunity to set a new course for relations between the two countries” through not only a direct dialogue, but “greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system.”

By May 2010, Brennan, then assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, confirmed in a speech that the administration was looking for ways to build up “moderate elements” within Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a political party with representatives in the Lebanese Parliament and Cabinet, according to a Reuters report.

“There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing,” Brennan said. “And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”

In practice, the administration’s willingness to envision a new role for Hezbollah in the Middle East, combined with its desire for a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear program, translated into a reluctance to move aggressively against the top Hezbollah operatives, according to Project Cassandra members and others.
The sheer idiocy (it couldn't possibly be naivete) of Brennan's statements is breathtaking. Hezballah is among the very worst actors in the Middle East. It. Is. Not. Moderate. The fact that the Obama administration submarined efforts to reduce their narcoterrorist activities would seem, on its face, to be a serious breach.

Meyer provides clear evidence that the Obama administration allowed Hezballah to continue its narcoterrorist activities in an effort to appease the Mullahs of Iran. One can only wonder whether the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the main stream media will consider clear evidence of appeasement as somehow less important than fantasy claims of collusion between the current administration and the Russians. I bet they will, don't you?


It's become so predictable, it's almost as if one might conclude that there's bias.

Reminder, "fake news" includes acts of omission when they are applied to important news stories that happen to damage the trained hamsters' preferred leaders and preferred party. After all, fantasy allegations "obstruction of justice" are BIG stories, when Donald Trump is involved. But when an investigation presents irrefutable evidence that a President of the United States named Barack Obama quashed a DEA program to thwart a narcoterrorist organization moving drugs into our country from the Middle East? Nah, that's not actual obstruction of justice and it's certainly not news, is it?

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Centrifuge Spins

In a fascinating treatise of what he calls the "Age of Outrage", Jonathan Haidt writes:
When we look back at the ways our ancestors lived, there’s no getting around it: we are tribal primates. We are exquisitely designed and adapted by evolution for life in small societies with intense, animistic religion and violent intergroup conflict over territory. We love tribal living so much that we invented sports, fraternities, street gangs, fan clubs, and tattoos. Tribalism is in our hearts and minds. We’ll never stamp it out entirely, but we can minimize its effects because we are a behaviorally flexible species. We can live in many different ways, from egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups of 50 individuals to feudal hierarchies binding together millions. And in the last two centuries, a lot of us have lived in large, multi-ethnic secular liberal democracies. So clearly that is possible. But how much margin of error do we have in such societies?

Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: as tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life. This seems to be what the Founding Fathers believed. Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of those eighteenth-century deists clearly did think that designing a constitution was like designing a giant clock, a clock that might run forever if they chose the right springs and gears.

Thankfully, our Founders were good psychologists. They knew that we are not angels; they knew that we are tribal creatures. As Madison wrote in Federalist 10: “the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” Our Founders were also good historians; they were well aware of Plato’s belief that democracy is the second worst form of government because it inevitably decays into tyranny. Madison wrote in Federalist 10 about pure or direct democracies, which he said are quickly consumed by the passions of the majority: “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention . . . and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

So what did the Founders do? They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances.
Checks and balances are a wonderful thing. It's what makes the government so slow and deliberate; it's what spawns opposition to existing leadership; it's what fosters alternative political philosophies and policies; it's what has made the American experiment so unbelievably successful. But when the "fine tuning" of checks and balances goes awry, bad things begin to happen. Political opposition morphs into #resistance—nothing can be bi-partisan, nothing the majority party does can be accepted. And anything goes—dishonesty and demonization in the name of #resistance are not only okay, they are a badge of honor.

That's what's happening right now. Checks and balances has devolved into rabid tribalism that has been magnified by the disappointment and anger that occurred when an presidential election that was supposed to be a slam dunk became a startling upset.

Just when you think the left's hysteria over the election of Donald Trump can't get any worse, it gets worse. In my last post, I noted that the outright hysteria over the FCC ruling to eliminate the so-called "net neutrality" regulations imposed in 2015 by Barack Obama was "the end of the internet" or "the end of democracy" or "allowing big corporations to censor what we see on the Web." Funny how the Internet worked just fine before 2015, didn't it? But no matter, the evil Donald Trump is involved, so ... hysteria. Or maybe it's the crazy talk that a tax reform package that doubles the standard deduction for the 70 percent of middle class people (that's around 85 million taxpayers) who take the standard deduction will somehow increase their taxes. Tribalism = dishonesty in this case.

Wikipedia defines mass hysteria as:
In sociology and psychology, mass hysteria (also known as collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior) is a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear (memory acknowledgement).
Hmmm... "collective illusions of threats" seems to be operative across the board. Removing two year old regulations = destruction of the Internet! Lowering the standard deduction = raising taxes! Illusions? You make the call. It's almost as if hate and fear are driving the illusion—that one tribe is literally hallucinating and as a consequence, sees the world through a very distorted lens.

But why? Is it really because Hillary Clinton lost? Is it really because Donald Trump is evil incarnate? Haidt continues:
Why do we hate and fear each other so much more than we used to as recently as the early 1990s? The political scientist Sam Abrams and I wrote an essay in 2015, listing ten causes. I won’t describe them all, but I’ll give you a unifying idea, another metaphor from physics: keep your eye on the balance between centrifugal and centripetal forces. Imagine three kids making a human chain with their arms, and one kid has his free hand wrapped around a pole. The kids start running around in a circle, around the pole, faster and faster. The centrifugal force increases. That’s the force pulling outward as the human centrifuge speeds up. But at the same time, the kids strengthen their grip. That’s the centripetal force, pulling them inward along the chain of their arms. Eventually the centrifugal force exceeds the centripetal force and their hands slip. The chain breaks. This, I believe, is what is happening to our country.
Haidt goes on to identify a number of causes. Among them is a media that no longer even tries to be an objective referee, but instead, advocates for one side over the other; the inherent conflict between the tribalism that is part of human nature and the thrust toward a multicultural and diverse society; a GOP that for the first time in modern memory is willing to assert itself and push back against the combined influence of the left and their media allies; the emphasis on identify politics as a mechanism for dividing society into tribes within tribes and redefining both "oppression" and "privilege" in the bargain.

And as the centrifuge spins, hysteria amplifies.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Net Neutrality

Ask someone to look up for just a second from their digital device and answer a question coming from a real-live human being: "Are you in favor of a free and open Internet?" The answer is predictable: "Of course!"

But things get more complicated when you spend some time exploring what "free and open" actually means.

Prior to the previous administration, the Internet, all of the many ISPs who provided access to it, the content providers who provided what everyday users wanted, and the technology that advanced yearly to provide higher speed, better responsiveness, etc. all seemed to get along just fine ... thank you very much! Sure, the 800 lb guerrillas on the nets did overstep their bounds and often bullied the smaller guys, there was constant turnover (remember when AOL was king of the nets?), but in the main, the Internet prospered and more than exceeded its promise.

The Obama administration, Big Intrusive Government advocates all, never encountered an opportunity to regulate that they didn't like. Using the euphemism, "Net Neutrality," they loaded the FCC with advocates that supposedly were there to support the "little guy." After all, everyone should have access to anything they want and at bandwidth they desire, ideally at the same cost. No matter that building high speed infrastructure is expensive.

Now that the FCC has rolled back Obama era regulations, you'd thing that we were on the edge of being plunged back to an era of 2400 baud modems, space invaders, and the Apple Newton. Even worse, reducing regulation of the Internet has lead to predictable hysteria. Here's an actual headline form the left-wing website, The Nation: "Gutting Net Neutrality Is the Trump Administration’s Most Brutal Blow to Democracy Yet."

My goodness. "Brutal blows" to democracy involve the weaponization of government agencies (recent example: The DoJ and FBI) against one party in a presidential campaign. Threats to Democracy involve dishonesty and stonewalling in government. Threats to democracy involve government spying on individuals and the media with no good reason. Threats to democracy involve one political party and its adherents refusing to accept the outcome of a democratic election. But removing a few regulations? That's a threat to democracy? Give me a break!

Net Neutrality is a meaningless political term. The vast majority of "activists" who are now hyperventilating over the demise of regulations have little if any idea what it all really means. Could prices rise over time? Sure, but market competition should keep them in check, just as its done in the mobile device arena. Could bandwidth to consumers be more tightly controlled. Possibly, but that has already occurred under net neutrality regulations. And besides, tech advances will lead to higher and higher bandwidth, so what's "fast" today will be "slow" tomorrow. Could access to some content be discouraged because the ISP (e.g., Comcast) provides its own competitive alternative? Yes, but there are existing anti-trust laws on the books to protect consumers from that.

In essence, we don't want predatory behavior that allows the giant companies to restrict access to content providers who sit outside their stable of in-house content. We don't want giant companies to stifle innovation. But the best solve for those problems is market competition. Anyone who believes that Obama's net neutrality regulation did that is being naive.

When AOL and Compuserve ruled the roost, it looked like innovation would be stifled. It wasn't then, and despite the hysteria coming from Democrats, it won't be now that net neutrality regulations have been eliminated.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Partisan Residue

Among its many failings, the previous administration left a toxic legacy of hyper-politicization of government agencies. The most egregious (most of us thought) was the weaponization of the IRS against the administration's opponents. But over the past month we've learned that senior people in the justice department and the FBI were partisan hacks who, it appears, acted to assist one political candidate and undermine the other.

The Democrats love to talk about the mirage of Trump-Russia collusion, an evidence free allegation that led to a special prosecutor and no meaningful evidence of any kind. Now we learn that people on the special prosecutor's team were Clinton partisans who seem uninterested in growing evidence that the FBI used a sham document (the Fusion GPS dossier) as "evidence" to investigate (the term "wiretap" comes to mind) Trump and his campaign team. Funny, that's actual collusion between Democratic operatives, the Russians who they paid for phony information, and the FBI who took that phony evidence (possibly paying for it) and used it to get FISA warrants under false pretenses. All of this is exceedingly complex (the M.O. of Clinton/Democrat scandals) and most people simply tune it out. But despite efforts by Democratic politicians to stonewall, it's likely that more will come out, and it won't be good for the Dems.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?

Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

What “policy” would that be? The “Andy” in question is Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director. FBI officials are allowed to have political opinions, but what kind of action were they discussing that would amount to anti-Trump “insurance”?
Leaping to defend the indefensible, the Dems whipped out a standard talking point.

"Everyone, even FBI agents, has a right to their personal political opinions," they declare sanctimoniously. Unfortunately, the Dems left out the part that says that the Hatch Act expressly forbids government employees from discussing politics and plotting political strategies at their place of work. That's what happened here, proven by the perpetrator's own words.

What's most concerning is that the Trump DoJ isn't acting more aggressively to get to the bottom of this. I suspect that's because the deep state bureaucrats at both DoJ and the FBI will do everything necessary to stop disclosure and everything possible to sidetrack the truth.

The poisonous partisan residue of the Obama years has weakened the DoJ and FBI. It's completely understandable to question the honesty and integrity of the unelected leaders of those agencies. The deep state is at work here, protecting itself at all cost.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Moore-Part II

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore lost a special election to a nondescript Democrat yesterday. It's a good thing. As I noted in yesterday's post:
His [Roy Moore] views are extreme and often unhinged, a throwback to political caricatures of the South of the 1950s. His [Roy Moore's] positions draw far too heavily of his personal religious beliefs; his reasoning on important issues is muddled and mean-spirited; he refuses to recognize that our culture as a nation has changed, and has decided that he is the arbiter of morality and justice. He's a bad guy. And all of that has nothing to do with the sexual allegations that have surfaced.
Predictably, Democrats are ecstatic after the victory, suggesting that the election is a repudiation of the hated Donald Trump and that despite all evidence to the contrary, a rejection of GOP policies. All of a sudden, the "deplorables" in Alabama who voted for Trump by a wide, wide margin in 2016, are now not so deplorable. They have, apparently had an epiphany. It's never occurred to progressives that given the choices of candidates in 2016 and again in 2017, the deplorables in Alabama may have been right both times.

Caitlin Huey-Burns and James Arkin summarize the politics of all this:
Doug Jones’ victory over scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate special election delivered a gut punch to Donald Trump, putting the president’s legislative agenda -- and the GOP’s already tenuous grip on the upper chamber -- in jeopardy. Once Jones is seated early next year, Republicans will hold just a perilous 51-49 majority. And while Democrats’ path is narrow, their upset victory in Alabama gives them a shot at gaining control in 2018.

But Republicans who opposed Moore have characterized the loss as a longer-term gain for the party. In a sign of the cockeyed dynamics of the race, some are breathing sighs of relief as they no longer face the liabilities that were sure to come if the alleged sexual predator became their colleague. Some GOPers are also pointing fingers at former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who championed Moore through the election.

“Tonight’s results are clear – the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner, who withdrew support from the candidate amid the scandal.
The "deplorables" of Alabama did the right thing and refused to give a bad guy a victory only because he was a Republican. I'm waiting for at least a few Democrats to demonstrate that they can do the right thing by crossing party lines to vote for legislation that will help the people they purport to care so much about. Waiting ... Waiting ... Waiting ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Roy Moore

The special U.S. Senate election in Alabama has has become a political focal point over the past few months. There is of course the main text, an extremist right-wing candidate, Roy Moore, accused of having sex with underage girls is running against a nondescript Democrat. The subtext is more interesting—potential control of the Senate. But far more important, the rightwing extremist, should he win, will roil the Senate in controversy, sucking all of the air out of what legislation is considered there; it will draw the GOP into a lengthy "ethics" investigation and allow the Democrats to demonize the entire GOP, suggesting that the entire GOP is just like Roy Moore.

For those reasons, I suspect that behind closed doors, there are at least a few Dems who are hoping for a Moore victory. but no matter who wins, the Dems will win if they win the election and they'll win if the lose the election. It's a good place to be politically.

I'm hopeful that Moore will lose today. His views are extreme and often unhinged, a throwback to political caricatures of the South of the 1950s. His positions draw far too heavily of his personal religious beliefs; his reasoning on important issues is muddled and mean-spirited; he refuses to recognize that our culture as a nation has changed, and has decided that he is the arbiter of morality and justice. He's a bad guy. And all of that has nothing to do with the sexual allegations that have surfaced.

But should Moore win, it an absolute certainty that there will be a deluge of claims that he is the new face of the GOP. That's dishonest and cynical, but no matter.

Hopefully, if Moore wins, the GOP will move quickly to isolate and investigate Moore and remove him from office if the claims against him are true. And even if he can't be removed, he should be relegated to meaningless committee positions and otherwise ostracized. He would represent exactly one percent of the Senate, an man with no allies, meaning that his influence would be almost non-existent.

Moore is not the only scumbag in Congress, but that doesn't matter. He shouldn't be there. Let's hope the voters in Alabama agree.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Long Gone

Many years ago I was on business in Atlanta and had a few hours to spare. I decided to take a tour on CNN headquarters, then a respected 24-hour news outlet. I even bought a CNN hat and wore it proudly during the cold winters in New England.

Today, CNN has devolved into a pathetic media joke — biased, inaccurate, doctrinaire and populated by talking heads who are, to put it kindly, not very smart.

CNN is obsessed with the phony Russian collusion narrative and spends hours on it, often promoting fake news in an effort to make their hysterical condemnation of Donald Trump appear to have substance.

Mollie Hemingway writes:
Early on Friday, CNN promoted its latest breathless report purporting to show collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. CNN has been extremely invested in the narrative of collusion for the last year.

In June, CNN was forced to pull one of its Russia-Trump conspiracy stories that “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.” The discredited story was based on a single anonymous source who connected Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent ally of President Trump, to a Russian investment fund managed by a Kremlin-controlled bank. Three journalists who worked on the story were fired.

But many of the other stories CNN pushed had serious problems, including one that claimed fired FBI head Jim Comey would testify he never told President Trump three times that he was not under FBI investigation. That’s precisely what he testified the next morning after the story ran. Still other stories are headlined explosively and presented on-air breathlessly while being quite anodyne. Earlier this week, was a piece headlined, “Exclusive: Previously undisclosed emails show follow-up after Trump Tower meeting.” The piece quietly revealed that Trump Jr. didn’t receive the follow-up and the “follow-up” was in no way incriminating or suggesting treasonous collusion to steal an election. Such stories have been par for the course for the Russia-Trump collusion narrative.

Friday morning’s report — which got the usual suspects extremely excited — was one such story. Broadcast widely on air and online, it intimated that Donald Trump, Jr. was given an advance notice about documents hacked or phished from Democrats before they were publicly available. The story didn’t include any evidence that the random dude who emailed Trump, Jr. was correct, that his email had been opened, that he was connected to Russia, or anything else to justify the excitement that those all-in on the collusion narrative had in response to it.
CNN has become the poster child for fake news. Driven by its internal left-wing bias and its resultant hatred of Donald Trump, it will publish any story that fits its warped narrative—even when the story is dead wrong.

My CNN hat is long gone. So is CNN as a respected member of the journalistic community.


Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) has done more to ruin the reputation of many mainstream media outlets than anything that Donald Trump could possibly tweet. In fact, Trump's tweets about "fake news" have proved to be so accurate that the media's repeated denials and near-hysterical defensiveness have become laughable.

TDS has forced the trained hamsters of the media to fall pray to confirmation bias. They so desperately want their fake new narratives about, say, Russian collusion, to be proven accurate, that they'll report anything that confirms them. No journalistic standards, no verification of source, nada. The problem is that what they report isn't true. Glen Greenwald comments:
FRIDAY WAS ONE of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.

The spectacle began on Friday morning at 11:00 am EST, when the Most Trusted Name in News™ spent 12 straight minutes on air flamboyantly hyping an exclusive bombshell report that seemed to prove that WikiLeaks, last September, had secretly offered the Trump campaign, even Donald Trump himself, special access to the DNC emails before they were published on the internet. As CNN sees the world, this would prove collusion between the Trump family and WikiLeaks and, more importantly, between Trump and Russia, since the U.S. intelligence community regards WikiLeaks as an “arm of Russian intelligence,” and therefore, so does the U.S. media.

This entire revelation was based on an email which CNN strongly implied it had exclusively obtained and had in its possession. The email was sent by someone named “Michael J. Erickson” – someone nobody had heard of previously and whom CNN could not identify – to Donald Trump, Jr., offering a decryption key and access to DNC emails that WikiLeaks had “uploaded.” The email was a smoking gun, in CNN’s extremely excited mind, because it was dated September 4 – ten days before WikiLeaks began promoting access to those emails online – and thus proved that the Trump family was being offered special, unique access to the DNC archive: likely by WikiLeaks and the Kremlin.
There was only one catch—the whole report was phony. CNN was forced to retract the story and other media sources who parroted their report (without proper verification) were as well.

It's fake news all the way down.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Days of Rage

Let's try to deconstruct all of the breathless (and brainless) media reporting about the palestinian "days of rage" and the Universal condemnation of any action that might upset the delicate "peace process." All of this followed Donald Trump's announcement that the United States would at long last begin preparations for moving its embassy to Israel's capital, Jerusalem. It seems that the elites across the globe are opposed to Trump's actions. After all, their attempts at achieving peace between Israel and the palestinians have gone sooo well over the past five decades that they should unquestionably be the authority on these things. Not!

It amazes me that the global elites are so lacking in self-awareness and so full of hubris. Their efforts at the so-called middle-East peace process have failed and failed miserably, and yet, they "condemn" any attempt at trying something new. The elites have repeatedly tried to pressure Israel into national suicide, have allowed the palestinians to embrace a victimization culture, have looked the other way as palestinian groups have committed serial atrocities and, incredibly, have accepted the warped notion that a "palestinian" state that never existed is somehow "occupied" by the people of an actual state that has existing for thousands of years.

The elites who criticize Trump so quickly tell us that they are so, so concerned about the "aspirations" of the palestinians. The most notable "aspiration" of the palestinians and far too many of their Muslim brothers is to destroy the Jewish state and create their own country, "palestine," with its capital, Jerusalem.

It's very important to note a few inconvenient historical facts, pre-1947:
  • the palestinians never had a country of their own and therefore, never had a country "stolen" from them
  • the palestinians never had a leader or ruler of that fictitious country
  • the palestinians never had a governing body made made up of the people of that fictitious country, and
  • no one (not even other Arabs) recognized the fictitious country because ... well, it didn't exist ... EVER.
So "palestine" would be a new country, taken from the Jews who have lived there for thousand of years and were granted modern boundaries (insufficient no doubt, but still boundaries) by the United Nations in 1947, fought multiple defensive wars against the Arabs (winning every one) to protect their real country and in-so-doing, slightly expanding those boundaries, and would give up much to live in peace with the Arabs. Finally, it's worth noting that the Arabs have had a number of opportunities to do just that—live in peace—but have walked away from each, because ... well, becoming a real country as opposed to a corrupt, violent welfare culture living on the largess of the West is hard work.

Now, let's consider what has just occurred after Trump's announcement. The palestinians riot, launch rockets, and celebrate "days of rage" all because an announcement has been made? And the Israelis are expected, as they are always expected, to turn the other cheek, make nice, and sue for peace. Heh.

Noah Rothman comments on all of this:
To a self-righteous set of foreign-policy observers, Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the height of irresponsibility. From real American allies like Britain’s Theresa May to fake ones, like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump’s move has been met with trepidation. Once again, we are told, an American president is sacrificing the credibility of the United States by going it alone, thereby abandoning the country’s singular role as global leader. This is, of course, a load of nonsense.

Hours after Trump’s announcement, the Czech Republic announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israeli media reported that Hungary and the Philippines will soon follow suit and begin the process of relocating their embassies to Jerusalem.

Trump’s decision to recognize an on-the-ground reality in Israel was made possible, in part, by the tectonic geopolitical shifts in the region—notably, a sub rosa Sunni-Israeli thaw led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That rapprochement took place with America on the sidelines under Barack Obama, but that changed after Trump lifted an Obama-era arms embargo on Riyadh. Trump’s critics characterized this, too, as the end of American leadership. You see, the Saudis have engaged in a brutal war in Yemen against the region’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, for which the Obama administration thought it deserved to be punished. And yet, minutes after Trump recognized Israel’s capital as Israel’s capital, he also publicly asked Saudi Arabia to lift an embargo of Yemeni ports to allow in some humanitarian aid—a request with which Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House has reason to believe the Saudis are complying.
After eight years of the Obama administration's fantasy-based foreign policy in the Middle East (and its predictably disastrous outcomes) you'd think the elites would welcome a more reality-based approach. Nope. The elites think they're the smartest guys in the room. Never mind their serial failures or their lack of results, their fantasy world view is the one that matters. Until Donald Trump came along, that is.

Maybe those of us who have observed the elites at work in the Middle East over the previous decades should conduct our own "days of rage." Rage at the fantasy notion of who is aggrieved and who is the victim. Rage at the revisionist history that permeates all elitist discussions of the region. Rage at the rank stupidity and duplicity exhibited by the key arbitrators of the conflict. But the elites would tell us that rage is inappropriate and not accceptable in polite society. Unless, of course, the palestinians do it.


Here's the typical left-wing screed on Trump's Jerusalem announcement by Tony Burman of the Toranto Star. My comments are italicized and indented
We now know what the new American and Israeli approach to the Palestinian people will be in the Trump era: Having already slammed Palestinians against the wall and grabbed them by the throat, it’s now time to grind their faces into the ground for good measure.
Oh yes, Tony, for decades the West has slammed palestinian faces into the ground while they're provided billions in aid, ignored terror activities supported by that aid, looked the other way while palestinian groups like Hamas teach anti-Semitism in kindergarten, throw gay people off building, just for fun, and launch rockets at Israeli elementary schools to terrify 6-year olds.

That’s the real meaning behind Donald Trump’s bombshell announcement on Wednesday about Jerusalem, and there is no one in the Arab world — or in any corner of any world — who will misunderstand the message.
The message is very clear and I hope the palestinians, along with other Arabs and Western elites, understand it: Israel is a real country, not a fantasy country. Jerusalem is its capital. The fact that palestinians are upset by that reality is just too bad.

The unilateral decision by the Trump administration to favour Israel, defy the world and recognize the fiercely divided city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel not only reverses nearly seven decades of U.S. foreign policy. It does much more.
After all, who would favor the only liberal democracy in the middle east? the only country in the region with a vibrant economy? a tiny nation that produced more important technology, medicine, products than the entire Arab world combined, a country surrounded by 100 million enemies and yet survives and prospers? And by the way, you seem to be ignorant of the fact the U.S. foreign policy has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital for decades.

It effectively sabotages any lingering hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved in compromise with two states living in peace and security as neighbours.
I see. In your fevered imagination, we were on the brink of a settlement under Obama? There will be no prospect of peace until the palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist—a small existential detail. What the hell are you talking about?

It foreshadows a dangerous new phase in the conflict that will encourage extremists on both sides to reach for the gun and engulf the region in violence.
Last I checked, the only true "extremists" are palestinian. In fact, they have a name—Hamas. And their actions also have a name—terrorism.

And through the continuing oppression of Palestinians, it will inevitably lead to a “one-state solution,” with Israelis trying to act as perpetual occupiers, that will be neither majority Jewish nor truly democratic.
If there is a one state solution, that might be because: (1) there is only one state-Israel; (2) the palestinians are incapable of governing a peaceful and prosperous state, and have repeatedly walked away from opportunities to do so, and (3) the notion of "occupation" is a left-wing meme that allows you and your fellow travelers to justify a series of delusional arguments intended to demonize Israel.
Nuff said.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Too Much Power

I don't like Al Franken's politics a bit. He strikes me as a self-important ideologue who was far better as a writer for SNL than he was as a legislator in the U.S. Congress. I also have no sympathy for the manner in which he was cynically forced by fellow Democrats to resign (or at least, say he was going to resign) to gain some degree of political advantage for the party. That said, Franken's offenses—obnoxious as they were—were worthy of censure, not expulsion from the Senate.

Claire Berlinski discusses the broader #MeToo melieu when she writes (her article is brilliantly written, read the whole thing):
Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity. Our debauched emperors, whether enthroned in Hollywood, media front offices, or the halls of Congress, truly imagined their victims had no choice but to shut up, take it, and stay silent forever. Many of these men are so physically disgusting, too—the thought of them forcing themselves on young women fills me with heaving disgust. Enough already.

All true; yet something is troubling me. Recently I saw a friend—a man—pilloried on Facebook for asking if #metoo is going too far. “No,” said his female interlocutors. “Women have endured far too many years of harassment, humiliation, and injustice. We’ll tell you when it’s gone too far.” But I’m part of that “we,” and I say it is going too far. Mass hysteria has set in. It has become a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.
Over the past remarkable year, we have witnessed an ideological purge among those on the Left. Any variation from the absolutism of hard-Left dogma is met with outrage and condemnation. Suggest that possibly Islam should be held to account for the actions of its extremist co-religionists—you're an "Islamophobe." Write an reasoned essay that questions the progressive orthodoxy about women in STEM positions, and you're pilloried as a "mysognist" and then fired (at Google). Argue that the civil war and its key figures might remain in our schools and public buildings for historical accuracy and examination—you're a "racist" or a "white supremacist." Offer that possibly our current approach to healthcare is too flawed and expense and your opponents scream, "people will die." And finally, opine that the #MeToo movement is an "frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt" and you've committed a "gender crime."

The Left's purge of impure thought (personally, I think it's closer to a pogrom) stinks of mass hysteria. It goes far beyond moral preening ("I think this way, so I'm morally superior to you") and teeters on the edge of totalitarianism. It is a manifestation of George Orwell's thought police, in which impure thoughts (defined solely by Leftist thought leaders) are condemned, and impure actions lead to a societal death sentence. It allows groups like Antifa to act like violent fascists, yet suggest that they are "anti-fascist." Free speech withers. All of it can lead to no good.

But let's return to the #MeToo subject at hand. Berlinski shows considerable bravery (in this climate) when she writes:
The things men and women naturally do—flirt, play, lewdly joke, desire, seduce, tease—now become harassment only by virtue of the words that follow the description of the act, one of the generic form: “I froze. I was terrified.” It doesn’t matter how the man felt about it. The onus to understand the interaction and its emotional subtleties falls entirely on him. But why? Perhaps she should have understood his behavior to be harmless—clumsy, sweet but misdirected, maladroit, or tacky—but lacking in malice sufficient to cost him such arduous punishment?

In recent weeks, I’ve acquired new powers. I have cast my mind over the ways I could use them. I could now, on a whim, destroy the career of an Oxford don who at a drunken Christmas party danced with me, grabbed a handful of my bum, and slurred, “I’ve been dying to do this to Berlinski all term!” That is precisely what happened. I am telling the truth. I will be believed—as I should be.

But here is the thing. I did not freeze, nor was I terrified. I was amused and flattered and thought little of it. I knew full well he’d been dying to do that. Our tutorials—which took place one-on-one, with no chaperones—were livelier intellectually for that sublimated undercurrent. He was an Oxford don and so had power over me, sensu strictu. I was a 20-year-old undergraduate. But I also had power over him—power sufficient to cause a venerable don to make a perfect fool of himself at a Christmas party. Unsurprisingly, I loved having that power. But now I have too much power. I have the power to destroy someone whose tutorials were invaluable to me and shaped my entire intellectual life much for the better. This is a power I do not want and should not have.
There an old saying, "With Power comes responsibility." The power that Berlinski describes is very real—on both the male and the female side. People can and do act like assholes—they can be "misdirected, maladroit, or tacky." They can also be vindictive, dishonest, and unstable. And yes, there is a line. The problem is that line is very, very hard to define with specificity. It has to do with power, with intent, with coercion, with malice, with threat, ... and with a laundry list of situational and temporal elements. The ability to define the line unilaterally gives any one party too much power. To paraphrase Berlinski, it's a power that no should want and no one should have.

It's looks as if other, saner voices are beginning to emerge. This from Allison Benedikt:
When I was 23 years old, my boss would look down the gap at the waistband of my jeans when he walked past my desk. I was an entry-level fact-checker at my first magazine job, and he was an older and more powerful editor. My career, at the time, was in his hands. Once, when we had finished working on a story together, he suggested we get a drink to celebrate. It was a Friday night, and I remember feeling extremely nervous as we sat across from each other in a dark bar. He was flirting with me, I could tell. The next weekend, he asked me out again. A few days later, he kissed me on the steps of the West 4th subway station without first getting my consent. We’ve now been happily married for 14 years and have three children ...

It is an understatement to say something has shifted in the culture. And that shift is unquestionably to the good. Men like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and their less famous counterparts deserve to be kicked out of polite society, ruined, and, in certain cases, indicted. Women (and men) feel safer coming forward with stories of abuse and are being believed. But a byproduct of these welcome developments has been an expansion of our collective definition of harassment. Reading accounts of others’ experiences since the great outpouring began, I’ve vacillated between horror at the abusive situations so many women have endured and alarm at some of the interactions being considered misconduct. I’ve felt a rift with many of the younger women I know, who claim to understand exactly where to draw the line between legitimate behavior and abuse and seem to view harassment as any interaction with a man that has made them uncomfortable. For all the power of the #MeToo moment, it’s been a bit bewildering too.
Let me try to be succinct. Women do not have the right (although they now have the power) to suggest that any action that makes them "uncomfortable" is by definition, sexual harassment. In fact, what does the word "uncomfortable" really mean? Does it mean "mildly annoyed" or awkward, embarrassed or tense? As humans, we encounter those feeling on a daily basis, but they are not even close to "harassment." And therein lies the problem that Clair Berlinski describes in the body of this post—the line is there, but it is very difficult to define.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A Remarkable Year

The past year has been remarkable in a number of ways. The electorate rejected the elite policies of the past 30 years, exemplified most prominently by the Obama years, and elected a man whose style is grating, but whose policies better align with the public's desire to reign in Big Intrusive Government (BIG) domestically and project strength and resolve internationally. Those on the Left who champion BIG have used every tool at their disposal to demonize and cripple a new president, whom they despise. At the same time, they have reacted to a rejection of their version of political correctness by doubling down. Every opposing view has become "racist," "misogynistic," "bigoted," and "anti-immigrant." An #Resistance" has formed to not only oppose the new president, but in the fever swamp of hatred, depose him. Even the trained hamsters in the media soft-petaled the fact that 58 Democrat Congress members voted to impeach Trump this week. As all of this occurs, we conjure the faint image of communist Chinese reeducation camps in which history had to be expunged (think: Confederate War Monuments) of any reference that offended the politically correct.

Meanwhile, the new president continues his crass ways, infuriating #Resistance, but Winning Bigly." Any objective assessment of the past 12 months indicates that Donald Trump has accomplished more in one year than the previous president accomplished in eight. On the domestic front, out-of-control regulation has been pulled back, a business-friendly atmosphere has re-emerged, energy production is way up and resultant energy independence is within our grasp, energy prices are down, unemployment is way down, the labor participation rate is way up, the economy has seen successful quarters of 3 percent GDP growth, economic optimism abounds, the tax code will likely be reformed, the bureaucracy has been reigned in (at least a bit), healthcare reform is still a possibility, immigration reform has been placed squarely at the center of the table, and the media has been put on notice that its bias and fake news will not go without a response. A Foreign policy Team of 8s and 9s has replaced the past Team of 2s; we have extracted ourselves from trade agreements that are unfavorable to the United States and from Climate accords that do nothing to improve the climate; we have seen positive signs of anti-Islamist sentiment in (of all places) Saudi-Arabia, defeated the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, are now unafraid to suggest that Islam must take a stand against Islamists, have taken the appropriate stance against North Korea, and at long last, recognized that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

Richard Fernandez comments:
It is as if a hurricane has swept through Washington. Each fallen pillar represents a very deliberate reversal of the status quo ante policies of Barack Obama. The entire edifice the former president erected in his 8 years in office is in the process of being systematically demolished. Unsurprisingly Crain's Chicago Business reporter Greg Hinz reported a very unhappy former president [Obama] warning that Trump was nothing less than a new McCarthy, Nixon or Hitler while speaking at the Economic Club of Chicago ...

What Obama understandably neglected to mention was that a substantial percentage of American voters elected Trump precisely to undertake that teardown, an endeavor referred to as draining the swamp, aimed at nothing less than shrinking the size of government and breaking the perceived power of the elites ...

Opposed to the Deplorables are "liberals turned radicals" called the 'Resistance'. In the words of the New York Times "Donald Trump’s election inspired such moral revulsion and political outrage that ... parts of the American electorate had taken to calling themselves 'the resistance,' evoking the guerrillas who took to the hills and fought the Nazis during World War II ... self-styled revolutionaries."

After a period of sheer disbelief these liberal revolutionaries are now going head to head with the Deplorable rebels. The game's afoot and nobody can easily call it off.

Which will win has yet to be determined by history. All one can do is compare their present strengths and strategies. In the matter of strength there should be no contest. A survey of federal government employees have the liberals over the Deplorables by almost 19 to 1. Over 99% of Department of Education employees backed Hillary. Trump's best showing was in the Department of Defense -- and even there Hillary had 84% of contributions. Add to this the liberal dominance in the media (93%) and academe (92%) and in Big Silicon and it should be a case of progressive Goliath walking over conservative David.
I suspect that one of the things that maddens progressives and fuels Trump Derangement Syndrome is that given their significant advantages noted above, the Left should win this contest easily. It's a lot like a sporting event in which the overwhelming favorite has been defeated once by a hapless underdog and the rematch is much, much closer than expected. The favorite begins to press and as a consequence makes mistakes (e.g., "People will die"). An easy victory becomes anything but.

Fernandez continues:
Yet for a variety of reasons the contest is much closer than the liberal project could have been imagined. Even the term "Resistance" implicitly accepts the status of equality if not actual inferiority. One possible explanation for the surprising competitiveness is the existence of some weakness which prevents liberals from generating their nominal power potential. In fact the inability of the Resistance to generate net thrust is indirect confirmation the toxic lying, wasteful spending, institutional incompetence and ideological madness of which they have been accused is at least partially true.

Though they won't admit it they've realized this. This quiet acceptance has driven their strategy. The Resistance's need to rid itself of weakness explains the choice of rectification, also known as purge, as a major activity. Purges have traditionally been used by "progressive" movements to rid themselves of "undesirables". In 2017 the purge took two forms. The first was directed against the Clinton wing of the Democratic party and the second became a vigorous, almost hysterical campaign against sexual predators in liberal ranks. The need to clear the decks was so great that even liberal politicians like Al Franken and John Conyers find themselves reclassified as expendable.
An honest and unbiased media would report recent events for what they are—a Democratic purge. But the meta-game is never analyzed when the Dems are involved. It's all about "a need for new ideas" and "our demonstrable respect for women." The scumbag AL Senate candidate, Roy Moore, has already been characterized by the trained hamsters of the media as the face of the GOP, while an equally despicable John Conyers and the buffoon, Al Franken, are depicted in subtly more compassionate tones.

And as all of this moves us toward the end of 2017, a battle rages. Fernandez concludes:
In a wider context the stakes in the conflict between the Deplorables and the Resistance are probably higher than either realize. Apart from who wins in their dispute against each other both sides are also in contention with the challenges of the world. The dangers of war, runaway advanced technology, natural disaster and economic downturn are never far away from either.

The idea that politics was settling into some singleton framework supported by an historically inevitable permanent majority proved illusory. Obama may have been right in his Chicago speech to warn of danger but not in the way that he meant. The danger grew in his time in office. The status quo ante over which he presided was complacent. It was already falling apart. He just never saw it, until this remarkable year.
Thinking about it, it may very well have been that #Resistance honestly believed that politics had resolved itself and that they were the "historically inevitable permanent majority." Much of what has happened during this truly remarkable year has been driven by the fury that arose when Donald Trump demonstrated clearly that the Left is not yet a permanent majority. And, it may never become one.